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The truth and nothing but the truth: Exploring data presentation, manipulation and fabrication. Heidi McBride, University of Ottawa Heart Institute. firstname.lastname@example.org 613 761 4701 •The responsibility of the scientist (that means YOU). •What motivates data fabrication? •What are the rules? •Avoiding honest mistakes •How you will get caught. To be a scientist….. We are truth seekers. We hope that finding the truth will help humanity. Science is based on trust. Responsibilities of the Scientist: 1. Honesty 2. Open-mindedness 3. To question and be critical 4. To respect, support, and mentor 5. To be transparent to peer review and to the public What motivates data fabrication? Motivation Examples Fear The boss has a grant/paper/talk due. My boss will be mad. Panic I’ve been here too long, am running out of time. We will be scooped. Glory My hypothesis will win me a Nobel prize. Greed This Nobel-worthy discovery = money. Apathy Nobody will read it anyway. Frustration The reviewers don’t believe me so I’ll fix it! What are the rules? CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC Tri-Council Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship has adopted the wording of US Office of Research Integrity. “Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” http://www.nserc.gc.ca/sf_e.asp?nav=sfnav&lbi=p9 The Journal of Cell Biology Simple Rules. “No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Nonlinear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.” What’s in a Picture? The temptation of image manipulation. The Journal of Cell Biology, Volume 166, Number 1, July 5, 2004 11–15 Falsification of Data: Some examples. The committee cited "elimination of bands on blots, altered orientation of bands, introduction of lanes not included in the original figure, and covering objects or image density in certain lanes," the statement says. Discussed in Science 17 October 2008 Vol. 322. no. 5900, p. 356 Charges of fabrication target cloning pioneer News reports raise doubts on research Boston Globe. Hwang, W.S., et al. 2005. Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts. Science 308:1777-1783. JCB Editors find these cells have been placed together in a collage. From P.I.s whose spliced images were questioned: “The pictures for the wild type were done as a collage of cells… We have left the pictures like that, because we think it looks nicer.” “We combined cells from several fields into a single image to make this image more representative of the phenotype we have observed.” J Cell Biol. 2004 July 5; 166(1): 11–15. JCB Editors find the background signal was removed. Rossner cites the following comment of a student to a P.I.: “Stamp means you can use stamp function to remove some background. Everybody does it.” J Cell Biol. 2004 July 5; 166(1): 11–15. Most misdeeds are innocent. Scientists and journal editors say that most questionable image manipulation can be traced to inexperienced students or lab staff who are unclear about what is allowable. "It's junior people tidying up the image and not realizing that what they're doing is wrong," says Richard Sever, executive editor for the Journal of Cell Science, based in Cambridge, UK. "The temptation comes from the fact that you have to sell a clear-cut story," Misteli says. Tweaking images is also seductive in a way that adjusting statistics is not, because of the natural human desire to create an aesthetically Rossner estimates that roughly 20% of pleasing picture. accepted manuscripts contain at least one figure that has to be remade because of inappropriate image manipulation. Nature 434, 952-953 (21 April 2005) Avoiding honest mistakes. 2/3 of retracted papers claim to be unintentional errors. -always remember that your job is to find the truth. -if it feels wrong, it probably is. -garbage in = garbage out. if you can’t see the data with your eyes, it is not worth pursuing. Period. -know your experiment: the “kit generation” of scientists are at a disadvantage, but ignorance is no excuse -insist on comprehensive training with all equipment. -know your statistics, design objective experiments. -be critical of all the work around you, speak up. -take detailed notes and be vigilant with your lab book – only this can save you. -never become attached to an idea, try your hardest to prove yourself wrong. How you will get caught. • Science is self-correcting. • Journals are increasingly vigilant in screening raw data (Editors ask to see raw data from 25% of JCB papers, and figures are remade.) • Software is being developed to identify data manipulation • Journals are requiring detailed information on acquisition parameters • Journals are moving towards the direct uploading of raw data Journal Editors take this very seriously. “All digital images in manuscripts accepted for publication will be scrutinized by our production department for any indication of improper manipulation. Questions raised by the production department will be referred to the Editors, who will request the original data from the authors for comparison to the prepared figures. If the original data cannot be produced, the acceptance of the manuscript may be revoked. Cases of deliberate misrepresentation of data will result in revocation of acceptance and will be reported to the corresponding author's home institution or funding agency.” The Journal of Cell Biology, Instructions to Authors, http://www.jcb.org/misc/ifora.shtml What do you have to lose? • your privilege of higher education • your grants • your job • your career • your integrity •Negatively impacts the Institute •Negatively impacts the public perception of science •Negatively impacts clinical trials and human life •Slows the progress of science •Wastes valuable resources to reproduce incorrect data. Outline: Introduction to scientific integrity, policies at uOttawa and OHRI, and proper use of scientific tools.
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